I hear people say all the time that you just need to “have faith.” But what does that mean? And more importantly, why does it matter?
If properly applied, faith can be a powerful force, but many people don’t understand it. Some people think that it is just repeating the same statements over and over to yourself. While that may improve their mental outlook, that’s not faith. Others think that it is the mental acceptance of a fact. But knowing about Jesus is not the same thing as believing in Jesus. And there are others who keep their faith in the closet of their life and don’t bring it out except for show on Sunday mornings. That’s not faith; that’s compartmentalization.
Faith will be helpful to you when it’s incorporated into the totality of your life. When it shows up in every part of your life, you can get the most out of your faith. Here’s what it looks like to put action to your faith.
To have faith, it is important to believe. Belief is the foundation of faith. One must have a belief in God in order to have faith in God. But belief is not enough. James 2:19 says that believing in God is good. But it also says that the demons believe in God too, and that makes them shudder.
According to Hebrews 11:1 (KJV), “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Strong’s Concordance says the Greek word for substance in that verse is hupostasis, which can mean “assurance” or “confidence.” And Strong’s says that the Greek word translated as evidence in that verse is elegchos, which can mean “proof” or “conviction.”
Therefore, having faith means you can be assured or confident of what you hope for. And although you may not see the results of your belief, you can have the conviction or proof that it will be reality.
Paul said that you are to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). That means that you are to practically apply your belief in God to your everyday life. And that means putting action to your belief. It requires that you live like you mean it.
There will be times that your faith is challenged. You will have circumstances where your faith is put to the test. It is in those times that you will find out what you really believe.
Several years ago one of my children had such a debilitating disease that my wife and I were concerned that this child wasn’t going to make it. That was a long two years as we slowly saw the situation get worse and worse. We tried everything we could think of. We went to one of the best doctors who specialized in that disease. (The doctor even gave us his personal cell phone number. You know you have a serious case when the doctor gives you his personal cell phone number!) We tried allopathic medicine, alternative medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic, aromatherapy, nutrition, lasers, and probably some more I can’t remember now. But nothing was working. The situation continued to deteriorate. One night when I was talking to my wife, she said, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” Something in my spirit answered her before my brain could even kick in. I said, “The darkness is always darkest right before dawn.” To this day, I don’t know why I said that, but it proved prophetic. The very next day that child’s medical condition turned around and became a full recovery.
In times like that, it is important to press into your faith. Romans 5:3-4 says that tribulations produce active patience, and active patience produces experiences that prove our faith, and those experiences in turn help you develop an even more confident faith.
That confident faith will help you move forward in life. Jesus said that those who persevere to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13). It is not as important that you start well. It is most important that you finish well.
Life is not a sprint; it is a marathon. In order for your faith to keep you going during the uphill climbs of life, you will need to exercise it. It will behoove you to train for the marathon of life by putting your faith into practice before you need it.
Paul says to run the race of life that you may win the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24). And it is a long race. In order to win, it requires that you run like you mean it. If you are running to make it look like you want to win when you pass by people on the sidelines, then you are not running to win.
Running to win requires putting your faith in action in what you do every day. It requires that you read the Bible on a daily basis. Research has shown that if you do not read Scripture at least four times a week then your behavior will be no better than someone who does not claim to believe the Bible at all.
It is important to know what the Scripture says. Only then can you believe that your faith is real. It is through putting your belief into persevering practice that will you be able to win the race of life.
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